Preseason

Eagles 2017 preseason schedule released; kicking it off in Green Bay

Eagles 2017 preseason schedule released; kicking it off in Green Bay

The Eagles will kick off their 2017 preseason in Green Bay against the Packers, return for two at home against the Bills and Dolphins and wrap up the preseason on the road against the Jets, their normal preseason finale opponent. 

Here's the full preseason schedule:

Week 1: at Packers
Week 2: vs. Bills
Week 3: vs. Dolphins
Week 4: at Jets

Dates and times for these games have not yet been announced. All four will be televised on NBC10 and will be aired on 94WIP. 

This is the second time in three years the Eagles will face the Packers in the preseason. In 2015, Sam Bradford dazzled in the third (and most important) preseason game. He was 10 for 10 for 121 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. 

From there, the Eagles will return home to welcome Sean McDermott's Buffalo Bills and LeSean McCoy to the Linc in the second week of the preseason. McDermott, a former Eagles defensive coordinator, is entering his first year as an NFL head coach. 

In the third preseason game, which is considered the most important because the starters play longer, the Eagles will host the Dolphins and former Eagles Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell. 

And, of course, the Eagles will finish the preseason against the Jets. This year's annual preseason finale against the Jets will be on the road. 

 

 

Eagles-Jets: 10 observations

Eagles-Jets: 10 observations

Nice work from a couple wide receivers, a struggle from the backup quarterback, a couple intriguing positional battles, a Pro Bowler heading for the waiver wire and praise for the punter.
 
Welcome to the final preseason edition of Roob’s 10 instant observations!
 
1. I saw what I wanted from Dorial Green-Beckham in the Eagles’ 14-6 win over the Jets Thursday night at the the Linc (see Instant Replay). He played only a few snaps but he caught both passes Chase Daniel threw his way, one for 15 yards, another for 16 yards, and looked comfortable doing it. Man, I’m trying not to get too excited about this kid, and I keep telling myself, “There must be a reason the Titans got rid of a 23-year-old receiver with tremendous size and speed that they drafted early in the second round.” But so far, the change of scenery seems to be working for DGB. I see no reason he won’t be the Eagles’ second-best receiver this year. I guess the Titans really love Dennis Kelly.
 
2. And then there’s Paul Turner, who really needed an impressive performance to solidify that No. 5 wide receiver spot and certainly responded. Turner’s been solid but you know Howie Roseman is going to be scouring the waiver wire to upgrade the roster after final cuts, and Turner is the kind of kid who without an impressive performance Thursday night could have made the 53-man roster only to be replaced later in the weekend. But Turner once again was exceptional, with six catches for 66 yards — including first downs of 17 and 20 yards — and a 71-yard punt return for a touchdown. Turner doesn’t have super measurables but he has those soft hands that coaches talk about. He catches the ball quietly and softly and effortlessly and brings it into his body smoothly. I’m not sure who to compare Turner to. Probably Greg Lewis is the closest, but Turner doesn’t have his speed. It’s rare for an undrafted free-agent wide receiver to make this team, but Turner has done enough to earn it.
 
3. Speaking of Lewis, he deserves some credit for the work he’s done in his first year as the Eagles’ wide receivers coach. Josh Huff has shown improvement, Green-Beckham has quickly assimilated into the offense, Turner has looked like a steal and even the bottom-of-the-roster guys like Cayleb Jones, David Watford and Marcus Johnson look like potential NFL players. I was not a fan of Bob Bicknell, who coached receivers under Chip Kelly. I never thought he connected with his guys and I don’t think they ever really learned how to run crisp, decisive routes. I’m still not sure what to make of this wide receiver group, but I know it’s better than it would be without G-Lew.
 
4. Steven Means is better than Marcus Smith. He just is. He’s more active, more instinctive, more productive. That said, I still think the Eagles will keep Smith, simply because of the tremendous investment they made in him as a first-round pick. Smith has looked measurably better than last year, and as long as he’s improving, the Eagles will likely keep him around, hoping he can one day pay off on being the 26th player taken in the 2014 draft. But I like Means. Maybe the Eagles can keep them both (see story), but they’re not releasing special teams ace Bryan Braman, so that would mean six defensive ends — Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Connor Barwin, Smith, Means and Braman. Not sure that’s possible without going too light somewhere else. But it might be the smartest course of action.
 
5. Then there’s Daniel. Not an encouraging finish to the preseason for Sam Bradford’s backup. Two bad interceptions and no points generated in a full half of football against the Jets’ scrubs. This is why the Carson Wentz rib injury hurts so much. If Wentz had stayed healthy and performed at a high level this preseason, it would have been tough for Doug Pederson to keep Daniel ahead of him. Now? It’s tough to make a case for Wentz as No. 2 when he barely played in the preseason. Although I would sure make him No. 2 as soon as he’s healthy. Daniel may be Pederson’s hand-picked backup, but if Wentz dramatically outplayed Daniel in the preseason, there would have been a lot of pressure on Pederson to promote Wentz ahead of Daniel. Remember, the Eagles’ No. 2 quarterback has played meaningful snaps every year since 2005. The odds are No. 2 is going to play. I don’t want that to be Daniel.
 
6. Interesting battle for that fourth safety spot behind Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod and special teams ace Chris Maragos. Jaylen Watkins has had a very good preseason, but Ed Reynolds didn’t hurt himself with that 90-yard interception return Thursday night and nearly had a second. Watkins is probably a better special teamer, but Reynolds is more physical. Both look pretty sound in coverage. Reynolds played pretty well last year. His interception clinched a win over the Bills — Chip Kelly’s final win as head coach of the Eagles. Watkins and Reynolds were drafted a round apart in 2014 — Watkins in the fourth round, Reynolds in the fifth. I like both these guys, but I feel like Reynolds might have a little more upside. Interesting decision for Roseman.
 
7. Chris Pantale began training camp with a real good shot at sticking, but he’s been a disappointment this summer and certainly hasn’t acquitted himself well enough to be in the conversation for the 53-man roster. Pantale had a chance at a big play Thursday night and was wide open 20 yards down the field but let a perfectly thrown McLeod Bethel-Thompson spiral slip through his hands. The Eagles are in good shape at tight end with Zach Ertz, Brent Celek and Trey Burton, but Pantale will not be part of that rotation.
 
8. It’s been a year since JaCorey Shepherd tore his ACL, and the former Kansas Jayhawk just never got untracked this preseason and never looked as good as he did last summer. It takes some players a couple years to fully recover from ACLs, to regain their full speed and strength and ability, and Shepherd, a sixth-round pick last year, could be experiencing that now. He was very good last summer but just didn’t look like the same guy this year and finds himself now on the outside looking in going into roster cuts. Shepherd played in his first preseason game Thursday night and got beat on the Jets’ one touchdown. It wasn’t terrible coverage, but it seems like it’s a play he would have made last year. With the way Jalen Mills and C.J. Smith played, Shepherd will likely be released this weekend. But he does have practice squad eligibility and he’s the kind of guy I’d like to see the Eagles keep around.
 
9. I would have liked to have seen Cody Parkey attempt a few more field goals this preseason, but Caleb Sturgis beat him out any way you measure it, and I would expect the Eagles to go with Sturgis moving forward. Parkey says he’s healthy, but that was a serious injury he suffered last year, and he just didn’t kick the way he did in his record-setting Pro Bowl 2014 season. Parkey attempted only one field goal the entire preseason, a 40-yarder that he made. But he did miss a PAT against the Steelers. Sturgis was 3 for 3 in field goals (from 32, 42 and 47) and made his PATs. Parkey has the better résumé, but Sturgis has been better, both in practice and in the games. Parkey will ultimately go on to have a better career, but right now, the Eagles have to go with Sturgis.
 
10. Gotta throw in a word or two about Donnie Jones, who goes into his fourth year as the Eagles’ punter. Jones, now 36, keeps himself in tremendous shape and appears to be kicking as good as ever. Jones averaged 48 yards per punt this preseason with six inside the 20 and three touchbacks. Jones is the best punter in Eagles history and showing no signs of slowing down. 

10 observations from Eagles-Steelers

10 observations from Eagles-Steelers

PITTSBURGH — More big plays from the defense, no big plays from the offense, nothing much of anything from Sam Bradford.
 
The Eagles improved to 2-0 this preseason with a 17-0 win on Thursday at Heinz Field over a Steelers team playing without most of its stars (see Instant Replay).
 
Like the Eagles’ 17-9 win over Tampa last week at the Linc, there were some good things — mainly on defense — and some bad things — mainly on offense. And a few really, really bad things. Mainly on offense.
 
Kenjon Barner, Chase Daniel, Paul Turner, Nelson Agholor, Brandon Graham, Aaron Grymes, Jaylen Watkins? It’s all here.
 
Welcome to this preseason edition of my 10 instant observations!
 
1. I wish Mike Tomlin had played Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams for at least a few series Thursday night because it’s tough to truly evaluate the Eagles’ defense against a Steelers’ offense missing every one of its elite playmakers. Yeah, the Eagles’ defense recorded four interceptions, but they were against Landry Jones, who is a borderline pro. On the one hand, you love seeing that sort of aggressive playmaking, especially in the red zone. Nolan Carroll’s pick-six, end-zone INTs by Malcolm Jenkins and Grymes and a fourth INT by Watkins were all encouraging plays. But we need to keep in mind it was Jones throwing the football. Still, more encouraged than not by the first-team defense. It seems to have an aggressive mentality under Jim Schwartz. It's been solid against the run, it hasn't been allowing big plays and it did pitch a shutout Thursday night against an assortment of Steelers starters and backups. The first-team defense still has much to prove against real quarterbacks. But it's playing fast and aggressive, and that’s a good sign.
 
2. We’re still seeing nothing from the starting offense, and it has just one more chance to figure this out (see story). Since the starters aren’t expected to play in the preseason finale against the Jets on Sept. 1, the first offense has one more chance to come up with some sort of cohesion, some sort of consistency, before opening day against the Browns. That’s a week from Saturday in Indy vs. the Colts. The first offense played just three snaps against Tampa last week, which is the same as not playing at all, and against the Steelers, the unit managed three points and 122 yards in a half against a combination of the Steelers’ first- and second-team defenses. That’s five series and an average of 25 yards per drive. You can’t single out anybody. They’ve all been ineffective. The quarterback, the running back, the receivers, the tight ends, the offensive line. Right now, this is an ineffective offense lacking consistency, explosion and playmaking, and it doesn't have much time to fix it.
 
3. Focusing specifically on Bradford, he did complete 14 of 19 passes, which is good, but those 19 passes only went 115 yards, which is bad. That’s just six yards per attempt. Yeah, offenses are vanilla right now, yeah, his offensive line is in flux, yeah, he doesn’t have many weapons, but we really haven’t seen Bradford get into a rhythm yet, and that’s a concern. One preseason game to go for him and you really want to see him get the ball down the field against the Colts in Indy next week.
 
4. Turner has been the Eagles’ second-best wide receiver this preseason, the best if you consider that Jordan Matthews has been out a couple weeks. Turner has done what you hoped Agholor and Josh Huff would do. Make plays. Flash. His highlight-reel one-hander from Daniel for 23 yards to set up a touchdown in the third quarter is the kind of play we’ve been waiting to see Agholor make. Turner is an undrafted rookie free agent from Louisiana Tech, and Agholor is a second-year first-round pick, but Turner is flashing in a way that Agholor hasn’t. This team is desperate for wide receivers. So far, one guy is making plays. Not only does Turner deserve to make the team, he’s quickly showing that he deserves to play.
 
5. I don’t care if I write this every week, I really like Barner. He just looks like a football player to me. Sometimes you see guys put up big numbers in the preseason but you don’t really expect them to ever carry it over into the regular season. Barner hasn’t done anything since he got here in 2014 to make me think he can’t play in this league. He runs hard, slashes through traffic, has a terrific feel for the defenders around him and is tough enough to run through guys (rushing stats: 7 for 35 vs. the Bucs, 6 for 41 Thursday night). He’s explosive in the return game, picks up the blitz, getting better as a receiver. We all know Ryan Mathews’ injury history. We all know Darren Sproles is a gifted player but not equipped for double-digit carries. We haven’t even seen Wendell Smallwood play yet. It’s pretty clear Barner has to be this team’s No. 2 back. Not only that, he needs to have a role on offense as well.
 
6. Watkins has shown up in both preseason games. Watkins is an interesting guy. Weird story. The Eagles drafted him in the fourth round in 2014, cut him last September, then signed him off the Bills’ practice squad in November, and he’s been here ever since. Can play some corner, can play some safety. He’s never been a great tackler, but he’s shown enough in coverage and playmaking that he’s going to make it tough to cut him. He’s still only 24 and in a secondary with a lot of unanswered questions, he’s got a chance.
 
7. While we’re praising young defensive backs, Grymes is another kid who’s put together two solid games in a row. Grymes, like Watkins, had an INT Thursday night in Pittsburgh and has shown the ability to be around the ball. Grymes has three years of CFL experience, but he’s only 25, so he’s got an unusual combination of youth and experience. He’s another one who still has work to do to survive roster cuts, but he’s done some nice things.
 
8. I don’t know what else to say at this point about Huff and Agholor. You just keep looking and hoping and waiting for the two draft picks to shine and it doesn’t happen. Agholor did have a nice 22-yard catch Thursday night, but he sure hasn’t looked like a special player this preseason, and when you’re the 20th pick in last year’s draft you really should be doing something special at this point. I’m still not ready to give up on him, but with each passing game, I wonder more and more if it’ll ever happen for him.
 
9. It was nice to see Daniel actually look like a quarterback. After that performance against the Bucs, I was starting to wonder about him. Daniel was an unspectacular but not horrific 10 for 16 for 82 yards in the third quarter and most of the fourth quarter. Hey, small steps. It’s still terrifying to think of him as the No. 2 quarterback, but at least he didn’t embarrass himself out there.
 
10. Finally, a quick shout out to Brandon Graham, who we haven’t talked about enough. BeeGee, making that switch back from linebacker to defensive end, has had a solid training camp and has had consistently good pressures in the two preseason games. Graham has actually hung in there against the run, too. Graham is the longest-tenured Eagle on the defense, the only holdover from the 2010 team that faced the Packers in the playoffs. Heck, he’s been here so long he was teammates with Stewart Bradley, Quintin Mikell and Ernie Sims. Graham has been a solid player the last few years, but he’s never put together a full season that you’d want from a first-round pick. He’s now playing under his fifth defensive coordinator in seven years, and if anybody can bring out consistency from Graham, it’s Schwartz. So far, Graham looks like a nice fit in Schwartz's scheme. I’m looking for big things this year from Graham.